Growing anomalies over ownership of hashtags in India

Last Updated at: Nov 04, 2019

Hashtags play a significant role in most social networking platforms. Although it not a new trend anymore, if you are new to social media you should get familiar with hashtags. If you want to strengthen your position in the global marketplace, then using hashtags in your content will help you reach your target audience.

First, let us know what is hashtag and what does it mean to the social network community that has been sprawling since the internet boom.  So what is this hashtag is all about?

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So scrolling through your favorite social media and anyone would be obvious to come across any feed with words being hashtagged and it all started in twitter. The first hashtag came across through Twitter by Chris Messina in 2007. Hashtags since then have spread around to other forms of social media, and till date hashtags play a very important role in driving traffic to a post and most later part of the social age it is a very viable tool in organizing and content booming. These process help in creating a particular topic of interest and community over the hashtagged topics. This went on for so many years and it went to have so many changes in its uses and have changed its primitive appearance to a monetizer of social media.

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What’s trending today

Today hashtags have moved from a common man content to an instance where it is being created by media experts and organizations which aim to deliver content to a wider range of audience. This has been into accurate calculations and has been into the science and mathematics of brand creation and brand recognition. There have been analytics tools and calculation experts and strategists formulating hashtags for marketing. So on the whole explanation it is clear that hashtags are the thing of the present and hold an important value in commercial activity.

This is where the ownership of hashtags come into place as every valuable possession has a possessor. The USPTO of United States is very clear in accepting hashtags as a trademark and when a hashtag represents a brand and the brand uses that hashtag to represent itself and market it as equal to a slogan. Pepsico Holdings which is the owner of Pepsi launched a campaign with a trademarked hashtag #Sayitwithpepsi .

Indian scenario

The Indian Trademark law is very vague in accepting the hashtags and the law generally accepts anything which satisfies the basic condition to make a matter eligible to be registered under the trademark act.

  1. Mark should be graphical one
  2. Mark should be capable of distinguishing itself

All the texts would be eligible to be accepted as a graphically represented. Hashtags being created using texts and numbers, it would be an easy task to pass the first criteria but the second criteria are where the hashtags generally find it tough to make it through.

A hashtag doesn’t have a long duration or it doesn’t have a lifetime at all. As it is evident that the hashtags should evolve and should get trending on its own. As the rules for trademark goes infringing a hashtag trademark and claiming it to be infringed is very tough.

Let us just look at it through a case example

xxxx is a brand and its slogan is YYYY. The brand owners wish to trademark a hashtag zzzz. Here the company would have already trademarked the brand name and its slogan as a general trademark practice. But the new hashtag zzzz doesn’t have any native purpose other than being used in a social media platform. xxxx has the freedom of hashtagging its brand name #xxxx and slogan #yyyy which were already registered under the trademark act.

But if zzzz has nothing in relation to the company, then it is actually a set of words bound together and it has to be proved for its uniqueness. Once and for all if these get proved and the registration is done then the hashtag remains as equal to a normal trademark.

The trademark registration is a process which involves acceptance through the fulfillment of the general conditions and any infringement will lead the remedy given through TM act or CPC.

Hashtags are a complex subject basically to get registered under the trademark registry but still once proved and registered it acts as a normal trademark.  

If you want to go beyond followers, then hashtag is the ultimate solution. Whether you talk from a user’s or a seller’s perspective, hashtags are beneficial to both. For businesses, it can enhance social media presence. On the contrary, users can easily find posts that are relevant to their interests by using a hash-tagged word.